Claire Black: Statistics show that one in nine Scottish women is likely to get breast cancer
IN MY personal history of Google searches, “Elaine C Smith + breasts” probably isn’t the most odd. But it must be getting close. I confess there was a slight moment of trepidation just before the results flashed on to my screen – you never know what people with Photoshop and time on their hands get up to.
Why was I looking? I wanted to see the advert that the actor has made to draw attention to the dangers of breast cancer. You know, the one that’s been described as “shocking” and “bold”, “unapologetic” and “hard-hitting”. So much so, it’s only being shown after the 9pm watershed.
Oh for the love of St Agatha (patron saint of breast cancer patients, as I hope you know). Can this be true? I mean really? Elaine C Smith stands holding large photographs of real breasts in front of her own breasts in order to deliver a vital public health message and the world stops turning?
Boobs. Bangers. Bosoms. What is there to be shocked about? That women have them?
I’m sorry, I must have missed all you morally outraged folk protesting about lads’ mags and Page Three outside newsagents for the last, erm, well, forever.
Smith, whose mother Stella died of breast cancer in 2005, was kind to people who she said might not approve of the adverts. I feel less tolerant.
If you need something to be shocked about, then try this: statistics show that one in nine Scottish women is likely to get breast cancer. That figure increases as we age. More than 5,000 women are diagnosed with the disease each year, accounting for 30 per cent of all Scotland’s cancers. It’s the second-biggest killer of women after heart disease.
The advert featuring Smith, made by a Scottish agency and paid for by the Scottish Government, is the first in the UK to show real women’s breasts with signs of cancer. It is part of a £30 million campaign to increase the number of cases of the disease detected early by 25 per cent, since early detection saves lives.
The key message is that it’s not just lumps that women should look out for when they are examining their breasts. There are other signs too, including changes in size, shape, texture and discharge from the nipple.
Shock isn’t helpful. Gratitude and maybe a bit of empathy for the thousands of women already dealing with this disease might be.
• BRACE. Brace. EasyJet is introducing allocated seating. No! What about all that fun we have at the departure gate as people steadfastly ignore the announcements to remain seated and instead gather around the desk like hair clogged in a plughole. What’s going to help me raise my heart rate now if I don’t get to curse them refusing to acknowledge the increasingly frayed and loud announcements or to read their boarding card for proof that they’re not getting on first? I just know I’m going to miss it.
• IAM sitting on a park bench, writing a long email on a smartphone that insists on auto-correcting “vagina” to “bayonet” – modern problems, I know. Nearby, a small girl and boy are attempting to entice a squirrel with a monkey nut. Said squirrel then decides to head for me and my smartphone, leaping on to the bench at speed. I jump and run (there may have been a small squeal). The kids’ expressions go from envy to fear to pity. I am humiliated. «
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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